Representatives from 20 companies gathered to talk shop with budding young professionals March 19, as the College of Business held its third-annual speed networking event in Jack Adams Hall at SF State.
Among the represented companies were Google, Genesys, Target, Zerve, and Farmer’s Insurance. Each professional was assigned to a table while groups of roughly six students shuffled through in round-robin fashion.
“It’s a great event,” Mariko Hingston, career counselor in the Student Involvement and Career Center, said. “Every year we get bigger; we have more business professionals and alumni coming in.”
Each group had exactly five minutes to interact at each table before a bell would signal the end of the round. This brief time limit presented a challenge for some attendees.
“It’s too quick,” marketing major Chelsea Argabrite said. “Five minutes is not really enough time to make a connection.”
Many of the students at the event hoped to connect with professionals such as Eric Barradas, an SF State alum who now recruits for Google. Landing a job at the company repeatedly named the best to work for is a dream for many, and for Barradas, it was all due to networking.
“Someone I previously worked with at Northwestern (Mutual) got a job at Google, knew that I did well at Northwestern, and put my name in,” he said. He went on to say that filling positions based on inside referrals is currently standard practice at Google.
These jobs and many others are part of what is known as the “hidden job market,” the approximate 80 percent of job opportunities that are never advertised. Employers increasingly rely on referrals from trusted employees in order to fill openings quickly and directly. For this reason, establishing a network of contacts is considered a valuable asset in most fields.
“This topic crosses all disciplines, all majors,” Hingston said. “It is so vital.”
The event was put on by the College of Business, but all students were invited to attend.
“I really like that this is open to not just business majors,” marketing major Jonathan Bloch said. “I think that there’s definitely a clear need for more professional events for not just our major.” Bloch served on the planning committee and co-emceed the event.
College of Business Dean Linda Oubre advised students not to over think the networking process.
“It’s not necessarily about selling yourself,” she said. “Learn to have interest in other people, to ask them about themselves and what they like to do. It’s just a conversation, or speed dating, whichever works for you.”